April 18th 2016
No Apologies Necessary
I am continuously amazed at how often my patients are apologizing to me. I am amazed by all the various reasons they feel compelled to create an apology. Let me tell you as a therapist, that we are comfortable with whatever you have going on. What matters most is that you are comfortable. I would love it if my patients were so comfortable that they did not feel a need to apologize.
Body image is by far the number one reason people apologize. This apology can be about anything from body hair to cellulite to skin conditions. This apology is common from both men and women. As your therapist I won’t say we don’t notice your skin. What I will say is that things like body hair, acne, and your weight are lowest the list of signs we are trying to observe. When we look at you, we look to see if there is swelling, redness, bruising and symmetry. We are looking for specific things, so we don’t notice if you shaved or if you are hairy. When we touch (or palpate as we call it), we touch to feel temperature, tension, tissue response and layers of muscles. We don’t notice your cellulite. As an RMT, massage is very much about having a conversation with your body. Your body has a lot to tell me about how it functions, feels and why it hurts. Those are the things I am actively trying to notice and therefore the things that may make you feel self-conscious about your body, to me are simply not relevant. We want you to feel comfortable and we will do whatever we can to make you feel that way but please don’t apologize for your body, it’s the only one you will ever have. A comfortable patient is a more relaxed patient and one will respond better to treatment.
The next common apology is about the location of pain. I have asked patients to point to their lower back pain only to have them turn and apologetically point to their backside. Your backside is your glute muscles. There are three of them and they are incredibly important muscles to stabilize the pelvis. Gluteus maximums is the largest muscle of the body, it was always going to be part of the evaluation of your lower back pain. Please do not feel the need to apologize because your pain is in an awkward spot. Please do let your therapist know what would make you feel comfortable about receiving treatment. Maybe for you treatment is done over clothes. That is a complete non-issue. We are happy to work with you.
Sweaty patients round out the most common apologies. Those patients that had to get a run in or a workout done and came directly to treatment. So you aren’t completely fresh and that might make you feel bad but to your therapist, this is a real opportunity. A runner that comes in right after running just increased the sensitivity of our orthopedic tests and now we can better determine the root cause of the problem. You might be sweaty but we will not notice. We are noticing that after your workout one knee swells a little and that we have never seen that all the time you showed up rested.